|A flower-festooned wagon passes the Giralda in Seville.|
|The simpecado visits the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall).|
|The insignia of the Seville hermandad of El Rocio.|
Groups, or hermandades
|Groups of rocieros are always accompanied by drummers and pipers.|
As May arrives, so the season for romerias (pilgrimages) starts - the biggest of these, in quantity of people, is El Rocio. Groups, or hermandades, set off from towns and cities all over Spain, and Seville has several. I saw one making its merry way through the centre last Thursday, from the singing flamencas, with their leather bags and walking staffs topped with sprigs of rosemary, and peinetas featuring the Virgen del Rocio, to the oxen waiting patiently with their pretty gypsy wagons next to the Giralda.
|A rociero on horseback from a much smaller hermandad, in the village of Valencina de la Concepcion.|
|Riders in their traditional romeria garb always look so elegant - here in front of the Hacienda Tilly in Valencina.|
|A carreta, complete with curtained, shaded outside balcony, sets off on El Rocio.|
All of these sights and sounds are wonderfully timeless, and no doubt will remain so for many more years to come. Romerias large and small take place up and down the country, whether it's a gleaming silver carriage carrying the saint or Virgin image, or a simple cart adorned with palm leaves.
|Crowds gather at the door of the church.|
|From the largest to one of the smallest - the Romeria de San Antonio in the Sierra de Cadiz village of Benamahoma (pop: 500).|